Echoes of the Wave: Documentary on Kitchee’s ACL adventure

As seen in the recent world cup, sport is a reflection of life and the gamut of emotions that people can experience. Some  fans literally live vicariously through their team’s performances and wins can signal an outpouring of joy and total sadness in defeat. Documentary film maker, Marcus Au, sought to record Kitchee’s recent Asian Champions League adventure and while following Kitchee both in Hong Kong and abroad, he has directed and produced a ‘fly on the wall’ film named “Echoes of the Wave.”

The premise and synopsis of the film is simple: follow Kitchee and their fans as they navigate their way around the Asia Pacific and face some of the finest club sides on the continent. The role call of opponents was certainly impressive and Kitchee had to take on the might of K-league giants Jeonbuk Hyundai, J-league mainstays Kashiwa Reysol and Chinese Super League club Tianjian Quanjian. Each match would be a learning experience, but as Kitchee’s confidence grew, those elusive first points seemed more achievable. Aside from the team, the documentary focused on Kitchee’s loyal supporters who followed Kitchee through thick and thin as well as their experiences supporting the ‘Blue Waves’ from the low points to the highs, when they eventually gained a morale boosting win over Kashiwa. 

Marcus Au first shared why he decided to direct and shoot this documentary and how he slowly learnt more about Kitchee and their own targets to both develop their team and Hong Kong football. 

“I would say that I decided to do this documentary and these interviews after I heard the news about Diego Forlan joining Kitchee. Before doing this documentary, I was not a Kitchee fan and I just knew about Kitchee from different Facebook news and it seems they spent quite a lot of effort on nurturing their future players. I like how Kitchee made their own football field. It is quite inspiring and motivating and Kitchee built up a good team with their own efforts and they signed up a big player in Forlan.” 

Marcus was impressed by Kitchee’s efforts to promote and develop football in Hong Kong and that the signing of Diego Forlan was a serious signal of intent. 

“At this point, I felt that Kitchee really made a lot of effort to make something bigger for Hong Kong football. With the signing of Forlan and Kitchee’s entry into the AFC Champions League, I felt that this could be a special time for Kitchee this year.”

“Some of my university classmates had done some documentaries before, so I felt encouraged to do something similar and capture this special moment in Hong Kong sports.”

傑志亞冠紀錄片《乘浪行》預告 | Trailer for "Echoes of The Wave", a documentary film about Kitchee's journey in the AFC Champions League

(Please scoll down for English version)【最新消息】應屆香港足球明星十一人、傑志球員唐建文及黃洋將應邀出席是次試映,與觀眾交流。 座位有限,如有意參加,請填寫以下表格作簡單登記。【Latest news】We are honored to have Tong Kin Man and Huang Yang, Kitchee players who won Hong Kong Top Footballer 2018 award, joining our test screening and sharing session tomorrow. Seats are limited and subjected to first come first serve basis. Please fill the following form for registration.傑志亞冠紀錄片《乘浪行》試映會Test Screening of “Echoes of The Wave”, a documentary film about Kitchee’s journey in the AFC Champions League足球故事,從不限於90分鐘。場外點滴,同樣緊扣球員球迷。香港球隊傑志,首次挑戰亞洲最高水平賽事。眼前,無數挫敗與嘲笑。身後,義無反顧的支持。信念、熱情和希望,化成此行飄揚的旗幟。日期: 二零一八年五月二十七日時間: 下午七時正 (觀眾可於六時半開始入場)地點: 香港大學黃麗松講堂是次試映會並不是公開活動,有意出席人士可於以下網址登記。除官方人員批准外,場內不得拍攝或攝影Kitchee, a Hong Kong soccer team sets themselves on a journey of trails and tribulations challenging the Asia's most competitive soccer league. Up against the current, this local team's passionate endeavour brought to light hope, families, and a fervor community as the 12th player.Date: 27th May, 2018Time: 7 PM. (Audience may sign-in to enter at 6:30pm)Venue: Rayson Huang Theatre, The University of Hong KongThis test screening is a closed event for interested parties only. Audience is required to register below to enter. photography or videography is allowed unless approved by officials.

Campus TV, HKUSU 香港大學學生會校園電視發佈於 2018年5月15日星期二

Au then explained the process of approaching Kitchee to share his documentary plan and how a small idea then grew and evolved into something much larger: a piece where the content also showed the human side of the players and the fans. 

“First, I approached some fans and I finally got the contact for Kitchee’s PR department. I had to write a proposal and it was quite short, because we did not expect a full length movie. With regards to the key players in the film, like Tong Kin Man, I contacted them through the public relations team as well. For the rest of the players, I  knew that I could directly approach them myself.”

Some Kitchee fans were fanatical as to follow Kitchee abroad and Au explored this unique form of fan culture.

“I also asked this question for my documentary. I cannot find a special reason why these fans supported Kitchee and sometimes the support usually started by coincidence. For example, a fan named Charlie started to support Kitchee when he went with a friend who was Kitchee supporter, so he started supporting them as well.”

“Kitchee have a good team chemistry and a greater vision. They also play good tactics when compared to other Hong Kong teams which may be more defensive. Kitchee also hold the ball more and spend time nurturing new players and these are some good reasons that the fans like them.”

Au felt that the pressure in the initial games gave way after Kitchee recorded their first win against Kashiwa Reysol at Hong Kong Stadium. Winning a game and gaining some points seemed to lift spirits at the club and the atmosphere became more relaxed and less stressful.

“In their first ACL games, Kitchee didn’t score, but they played well away in Japan and won against the same team again in Hong Kong. I interviewed players after the  last few games, but this time you feel the players had less pressure and smiled more.”

Filming a documentary is always going to be a challenge and Au said he experienced some testing times, as he only had a two person team to direct, edit and produce everything, as well as a tight schedule to follow.

“Filming was never smooth, mostly because of the time constraints. We do not have much of a crew and 70-80% of footage was done by me and my assistant director who is a student. With Kitchee’s packed schedule, we must make good use of time and cannot meet the players’ schedule all the time. Also, it is my first time making a documentary, so I needed a lot of adjustments.  For example, I found a player who was not willing to share, so I had to find other players instead.”

Au had the chance to get to know some of the Kitchee players. Photo: Marcus Au

“Another key constraint was that I cannot enter the stadium pitches because of AFC rules and cannot capture match footage. The filming from the fence side was not from a good angle.  Therefore I focused on fans’ reactions, but I noticed that the audience would still prefer a bit more footage of the actual match, so we are still sorting out the copyright issue.”

Football is the most popular team sport in Hong Kong and all strata of society love the beautiful game, though football itself in Hong Kong is struggling. Au pointed out the positive side of the game in Hong Kong and how it can create a sense of community

“Being a football fan in Hong Kong is maybe a good way to expand someone’s social circle and meet friends from different backgrounds who have the same passion. Maybe Hong Kong football can serve as such a platform and use good players to motivate people. For example, the slogan ‘HK people support HK football’, or vice versa, HK football inspires HK people. In fact, football players can inspire as they never give up, like Tong Kin Man. His motivational story is about becoming more successful in a late stage of his career.”

Au interviewed many of the Kitchee players. Photo: Marcus Au

Au hoped that people would see the documentary as more than just a sports documentary and that it could be a glimpse into the world of Hong Kong football and also Hong Kong as a society itself.

“I hope people feel the passion as the film is not just aimed at Kitchee fans, but I hope it can be an introductory film to Hong Kong football or Hong Kong culture.  The film seldomly mentions the name ‘Kitchee’ and is focused on players and fans and how they keep going even when local football faces so many complaints and criticisms. I truly hope the movie shows Hong Kong people’s passion and positivity. I think the key insight is that even though local football is not as good as before, the community can still work on it, keep fighting and make it more appealing to the general audience.”

Sports, life and society are always intertwined, regardless if people think so or not. “Echoes of the Wave” seeks to delve into this concept on a deeper level.

For more information on “Echoes of the Wave”, please visit the following link.

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